And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:11-16.
The very positive block of building the church of Christ, brethren, is speaking the truth in love. It is compared here with the negative of being children tossed to and from by every wind of doctrine and human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes in verse 14. If the church is going to grow and the members grow from infancy to maturity then a lot of speaking the truth in love has to take place. What we will do is seek to understand this concept in its context here, then move on to show how it is done and the I will give you an example of Christ’s ministry and then a bit of the apostolic ministry.
1) What is the context?
The word translated speaking is more accurately to be translated to ‘professing’ or ‘truthing’ and the idea is that we are ‘walking in truth’, or ‘having or holding truth in love’ and so then it includes speaking, discussing, teaching and living it… it is extremely dangerous to lift up a phrase from the Bible and turn it into a slogan.
a) We must know exactly what the truth is.
We must familiarize ourselves with the Word of God. We must study it diligently and come to a thorough understanding of the Bible. We must not go up the pulpit with suggestions or speculations. The fact that you attended the best seminary in the world (and thank God you did) does not mean that you know everything. You have to daily hear, read, study, memorize, meditate and apply the Scriptures to yourself. How can you teach others when you have not yourself been instructed in sound teaching? You who teach others do you know? How much time do spend daily on the Bible? Are you too busy to study the Bible? I have a habit that I will not leave the bed before looking at four chapters of Bible and pray.
b) Are you sure that you are holding firmly to it?
You are not reformed simply because you claimed to be or by saying you are. How are you reformed? We are to begin with what Paul told the Roman Church - But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, Rom. 6:17.
Consider also what Paul told Timothy, Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 2Tim. 1:13.
Paul had taught Timothy a pattern of the sound words, and he does not write to him to simply tell him to imitate his spirit, the spirit which he had seen in him, but he says to him to follow the pattern of sound words. The things Timothy had received from Paul, was the same words he was to entrust to other faithful men who would also entrust it to others (2 Tim 2:2). Our message is precise truth, consisting of truths about God and His sovereignty in creation, providence and redemption, the Father and the source of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ, His Person and His work, about the Holy Spirit and His work, it is also about man and sin, the only way of salvation, the church, and about the life to come as well as all necessary truth about life.
c) Are you watching over your soul?
False teachers in verse 14 are deceitful and cunning. Many of them are such effective instruments of the devil that they have effectively deceived themselves to believe that they are angels of light when they are sons of the devil and peddlers of falsehood. They are getting from bad to worse but you must not be like them. Instead you are to watch over your soul and also to rebuke them.
Listen to this:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Act 20:28.
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1Ti 4:16.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal 6:1.